May 31, 2012

Edo-made grilled unagi (eel)

I don't know to what extent people in the world eat unagi (eel), but eel is a very popular and expensive ingredients in Japan. We believe eel make us tough and powerful. For instance, if we feel tired in summer, we eat eel. 

The other day, I went to "Maekawa (前川)" with colleagues, one of the famous eel restaurants in Asakusa (浅草) whose history is more than 100 years. The restaurant is located along with the Sumida River and the wind from the River is very comfortable.  

Most of their menus are made of eel such as rolled egg with eel, grilled eel with salt, vinegar eel, eel bowl, etc. But the taste and texture are different and we don't feel tired eating. Rather, we wanted to eat more! The atmosphere is classic and we can be relaxed. We ordered only the three menu shown below with a glass of beer, but cost per person was around JPY7,000. Eel is really expensive! But all of us were satisfied.
If you go to Asakusa, one of the touristic district in Tokyo, it's recommendable to eat traditional Japanese eel dishes. My rating is 3.6 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!
Maekawa (前川)

A fun place....New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido!

There are many sight-seeing spots in Sapporo, Hokkaido, but one of the recent attention is New Chitose Airport (新千歳空港). For you, airports are usually the place for travel and stay few hours until airplane fly. But the New Chitose Airport is very different. It's like a big amusement park with many shops and restaurants! As you can see its website, there are also hot spring, movie theater, museum of Doraemon (ドラえもん) and others. We can enjoy a whole day in the Airport. 

We can also taste Hokkaido ramens as there are 10 ramen shops from all over Hokkaido. Most shops offer "small-sized" ramen in addition to the regular one, we can try various tastes of several shops. 
"Royce", one of the famous chocolate companies in Hokkaido opens their chocolate shop, where we can see chocolate factory through the window. It's so fun!   
Royce's chocolate factory
Next to the Doraemon museum, there is a lovely Doraemon cafe. Even if you are no longer child, I believe you can fully enjoy the Doraemon world there! 
There are also many fish shops to sell fresh seafood of Hokkaido. I bought a rice bowl of fresh sea urchin at JPY1,980. It's not cheap but we can't buy such a high quality bowl at this cost in Tokyo. In fact, it was worth for pay. Very fresh and meltingly delicious!!  
My rating for the New Chitose Airport (新千歳空港) is 5 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

May 30, 2012

Most famous miso ramen in Sapporo

As I wrote in the previous blog, Spporo(札幌) is famous as miso ramen and there are many ramen shops there. Competition is severe. Among those ramen shops, Sumire(すみれ) is probably the most famous and representative in Sapporo. The Sumire's main shop is a bit away from the center of Sapporo, whose access is not so convenient for tourists. However, there are always long queue surrounding the shop and the parking is full. 
However, thanks to the experience and good service, we don't have to wait so longer than expected. As a lot of signatures of celebrities all over the world are decorated on the whole wall, we can kill time by seeing them while we wait. The ramen is very delicious but a bit salty.  Oil is dropped on the surface of the soup to keep it hot. Younger generation would like the strong taste. It was tough for me to eat it up this time, but I remembered that I had eaten up several years ago...(am I getting old?). Anyhow, if you go to Sapporo, I recommend you to go there at least once. You can be proud that you have tasted the authentic Sapporo ramen, particularly the Sumire!

My rating is 3 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

May 29, 2012

Miso ramen recently popular in Sapporo

Sapporo(札幌) is the capital of Hokkaido(北海道), the farthest north prefecture of Japan. Hokkaido is caught on agriculture, fishery, stock breeding and accordingly, that is  a paradise of food! There are many specialties using local ingredients such as sushi, crab dishes, fresh meat barbecue, beers, chocolates, cakes, etc. and ramen (Japanese noodle). I don't know why ramen has been originally developed in Hokakido, but there are many kinds of ramens all over Hokkaido. For instance, the feature of Sapporo's ramen is miso, Japanese bean paste while the one of Hakodate is salt based.
Sapporo TV tower
Because of the popularity, there are many ramen shops in Sapporo. As I don't have exact information on local ramens, I usually ask local people like hotel men, taxi drivers, etc. about the popular ramen shops there. This time, a hotel man recommended us to go "Keyaki(けやき)" as a new type of miso ramen. That was bingo! The soup is made of chicken, vegetable bouillons and miso and the taste is fresh but rich. I tend to get bored eating miso ramen, but I could eat up this ramen tasty until the end.
The shop is a bit shabby, but inside is kept clean. Usually there is long queue surrounding the shop. I wish if I could taste it in Tokyo...My rating is 3.6 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!


May 27, 2012

Tofu dishes in a traditional house in Kyoto

There are many tofu restaurants in Kyoto where we can enjoy tofu dishes in traditional Japanese houses. One of the famous restaurants is "Jyunsei (順正)" near the "Nanzenji temple (南禅寺)", and I had a chance to have dinner there. Jyunsei has a beautiful garden and several Japanese traditional houses. At night, all the houses and garden are lighted up and the atmosphere is very nice. Before eating, our expectation became high. 

Most people ordered a set menu including boiled tofu (approx. JPY4,000 per person). Several starters and a sampler of tempura were served together with hot pot tofu. All the dishes taste classic and elegant. Tofu was also distinguished. Tofu was silky and smooth that I could eat the whole of tofu pot! More of all, the traditional atmosphere is the biggest seasoning for tofu dishes. If you want to taste tofu in a traditional Japanese house, I strongly recommend you to go Jyunsei!

My rating is 3.6 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!
Jyunsei (順正)

Yakiniku in Bali-style interior

There is a popular yakiniku restaurant for local people in Hakusan (白山) named "Lee cook(リークック)". They provide good quality of beef and Japanese-style Korean dishes at reasonable price. The outstanding point is Bali-style interior where women can be relaxed. We went dinner soon after the opening hour but it became full of local customers from children to grand parents quickly
The quality of wagyu(和牛) beef was high. Tender and meltingly delicious. Side dishes were also nice. As the price is not high, we could enjoy eating without worrying about the bill. My rating is 3.8 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!
Lee cook(リークック)

May 26, 2012

Gave my heart to GAGA

Last weekend, I and my sister went to LADY GAGA's "THE BORN THIS WAY BALL" held in Tokyo. That was....just incredible. I shook with emotion by her great performance and strong message (still, I' m deeply impressed and excited). No matter what, GAGA was cool, sweet and generous.  The stage set and dancers were also gorgeous, but only GAGA's presence stood out. I tried to catch all she tried to convey to us. I kept jumping, shouting, and dancing for more than 2 hours with GAGA and did not feel fatigue at all. That was special and happy moment for me.
Because of her fashion, it seems some people would see her as a freak or sexy icon (actually I saw news her lives were cancelled or protested in some other countries). But it is not true at all. Rather, I felt she is a very pure and serious women who likes music and has a strong faith. While she kept singing and dancing, she talked to us many times to express her message and feeling to her fans. She repeatedly told as that we should be confident as all of us are unique, special and perfect just as we are and we can be/do anything if we try best. Also, she showed repeatedly concern for Japanese who were affected by the big earthquake and tsunami last year. I cried. 

I recalled memories that after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, people other than Japanese left Japan and nobody came to Japan in fear of aftershocks and nuclear plants affect. Even so, only GAGA came to Japan to cheer us up and her positive attitude consoled us so much. Either it was volunteer or commercial, we were very encouraged in fact and her action should be rewarded.

On her stage, I felt she really wanted to convey her condolence and support to people. Though her song and performance were super cool, such her generosity made me touched and I gave my heart to GAGA.

 As I wanted to keep my memory fresh and just wanted to feel GAGA, I didn't take any picture or video. At the same time, I would like to share her great performance with others as much as possible. From You tube, please check and feel....

GAGA, please come back soon to Japan. Can't wait for the next ball....


May 25, 2012

Sukiyaki Crown Prince also tasted

Along with the Kamo river (鴨川) in Kyoto (京都), there is a very famous sukiyaki restaurant "Moritaya (モリタ屋)". Sukiyaki is a Japanese hot pot made of sliced beef, vegetables and tofu with soy sauce, sugar, mirin, etc. At any rate, delicious!! I've never met someone who don't like sukiyaki including foreigners. 

Moritaya is one of the famous sukiyaki restaurants not only in Kyoto but also all over Japan. Crown Prince also tasted its sukiyaki ( I saw the picture decorated in its corridor). The key of sukiyaki is beef's quality and Moritaya's one was very high (actually, the price depends on the quality of beef. the minimum price is from JPY6,000). We can taste sukiyaki in a private room. The atmosphere is classic.
Sliced high-ranked beef
Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) in Kyoto
Waitresses brought and showed the nice beef before cooking and they cooked in front of us. All we should do is just eating!! The beef was very tender and sweet. All of us were very satisfied. At least one time we should taste Moritaya's sukiyaki. On the other hand,  I felt that there are also many good sukiyaki restaurant nowadays other than Moritaya. Competition is tough. My rating is 4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Moritaya, Kiya-cho branch (モリタ屋木屋町店) 

May 24, 2012

Japanese Kaiseki Bento in Kyoto

Kyoto (京都)...our spirit, ancient capital of Japan! Kyoto had been nearly always the center of Japan for 1000 years until the late of 19th century, when Tokyo became capital. We have specific feeling toward Kyoto and always love to go there if given the chance. Actually there are many things to see and eat thanks to its rich history. I've been there more than 10 times so far, but still I know few (there is always more to learn...).  

The other day I had a chance to visit Kyoto and tasted a famous Japanese kaiseki bento at "Rokusei (六盛)" near the Heian Shrine (平安神宮). We can taste a prepared Japanese traditional meal contained in a special wooden case created by a living national treasure. Assorted tempura was also served by a separate plate. The price per person is around JPY4,000.
Restaurant "Rokusei"
Japanese kaiseki bento (prepared traditional meal)
The atmosphere of Rokusei is nice and the taste is sophisticated. There are both Japanese and Western style rooms that we can be relaxed. If you have an opportunity to go near the Heian Shrine, I recommend to visit the Rokusei for lunch. JPY4,000 is not expensive, value for money.

My rating is 3.9 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!
Rokusei (六盛)

May 23, 2012

Casual branch of a famous Italian

When I meet up someone, I often decide the Marunouchi building (so called "Maru-buil) as meeting point cause convenient it's connected to the Tokyo Station with many lines that anyone easily come and go home and there are many restaurants/shops in and nearby. Even we have no reservation on Friday, we can find seats in some restaurants. 

In the Naru-buil, there is "Essenza (エッセンズァ)", a branch of a famous Italian ran by "AROMAFRESCA(アロマフレスカ)."  Essemza is an open-kitchen restaurant surrounded by a counter where customers sit. Without waiters and sophisticated service, we can taste the high quality of Italian dishes at reasonable price. Indeed, it's worth for going.
soup of horse beans
carbonara with white asparagus 
My rating is 4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!
"Essenza (エッセンズァ)"

Dream hamburger delivery

In Hongo (本郷), 15 minutes walk from my house, there is a very famous hamburger shop named "Fire House (ファイアーハウス)."  Thanks to the big fame, many people always make a queue in front of the shop and we have to wait patiently for delicious hamburgers. But! Fire House has a delivery service and we can taste their hamburgers at home!! It is a dream, isn't it?  

While I do favorite things or housework for 30 minutes, the hamburgers arrive at home! The left is an avocado burger (JPY1,100) and the right is a bacon cheese burger (JPY1,200), our regular order. Yummy, yummy!! Actually, very tasty! Considering the great taste and delivery service, the price is very reasonable. Strong recommend! 

My rating is 4.2 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Fire House (ファイアーハウス)

May 22, 2012

Cheese cakes!

One year ago, a famous former french restaurant (currently it was closed) newly opened a head cake shop on a small street in Yushima. The shop is "Tante Marie (タント・マリー)" whose other branches are in Ginza, Tokyo, etc. As it is not on the big street, I didn't notice it at all until my hubby found by chance. But the shop itself is very lovely!! There are many fresh cakes, macaroons, pastries, cookies, etc. I could be there by just watching them for one hour...As there is no eating space. taking away only. Tante Marie is famous as cheese cakes and I bought two types of them according to advice.
The above is "Gorgonzola cheese cake with walnuts" and the below is ”Camembert cheese cake." Both of them were good (not too sweet but rich), particularly for adults. Tasting with red wine would be also fine.  A piece is not so big at around JPY 400.

My rating is 2.8 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!
Tante Marie (タント・マリー)

May 21, 2012

Azaleas festival in Nezu Shrine

There is a famous Nezu Shrine (根津神社) , which was allegedly made 1900 years ago in the area of Nezu, near my house. The history is rich indeed, many samurai shogun(将軍)s like Tsunayoshi (綱吉) contributed to build the building of the Shrine. This Shrine is recently famous in May as "Azaleas Festival" with many vivid Azaleas and outside food stalls. Every year we enjoys the Festival, sometimes with family and friends. Many people come to see the azaleas and this year we met a colleague of my hubby by coincident. 
But unfortunately, the peak of azaleas was already passed (we should have come much earlier...). Even so, we could enjoy the atmosphere of the Festival with many people. Thanks to a lot of tourists, I found local shops did good business and I understood why they were not bankrupt. After having a short walk to Sendaki (千駄木), we had a lunch at a cafe restaurant named "Sendagi-Roji (千駄木 露地)" , which has long alleyway in the entrance as the name says so. 

Waiters were kind and cheerful. Interior is chic that we can be relaxed. Dishes are Italian....but the quality of taste varies depending on each dish. Appetizer was good, soup was good, but pasta was not so good... For a light meal or casual date, this kind of care would be suitable. Actually we we took a rest here in the sunny afternoon.My rating is 2.5 out of 5.Gochiso-samadeshita!
Sendagi-Roji (千駄木 露地)

Sushi at a chain restaurant

People from different culture may think that we can eat most Japanese dishes like sushi, tempura, soba, shabu shabu, ramen, teppanyaki, etc. all together at a Japanese restaurant. Indeed, I have seen many such Japanese restaurants in other countries. But here in Japan,  "Japanese" restaurants are divided into each category, for instance, sushi restaurant, soba restaurant, ramen shop, etc. and if you want to taste sushi, of you need to go to a sushi restaurant. Sushi restaurants vary widely from casual and cheap to formal and expensive... Honestly speaking, I seldom go to formal ones but often go to casual one. 

Near my house, there are two branches of "Tsukiji Shushi-zanmai (つきじ喜代村すしざんまい)", one of the biggest sushi chain restaurant. This chain seems middle between rolled sushi bar and traditional sushi bar. The atmosphere is casual. If we want to eat sushi, we stroll into one of the branches at anytime. Price is very reasonable but professional sushi cooks always make good sushi for 24 hours! Thanks to that amazing opening hours, we've been there at 4 am in the morning. 
Any kind of sushi is recommendable, but tuna is very nice. The best thing there is we don't have to care about the bill and we can eat sushi as we want. It is wonderful, indeed. (Actually, sushi is not so cheap..) My rating is 3 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Tsukiji Shushi-zanmai (つきじ喜代村すしざんまい) Yushima-branch(湯島店)

May 8, 2012

Birthday party at a cozy wine bar & restaurant

In Yuhsima famous as Yushima Tenjin Shrine, the god of academic, there is a cozy and delicious wine bar & restaurant named "Bouteille (ブテイユ)" run by a couple of a friend of my sister. The cuisine is French and Italian that suit wine very much! 

The other day, our family gathered at Bouteille to celebrate birthday of some member who were born in winter and spring. The set menu was served at JPY5.000 per person.First, we toasted with champagne and small starter!
Then, assorted cold appetizer was served. So good! Particularly, the original dressing on salad is super! I'd love to buy if it were sold. Maybe kind of grilled beef soup is used in the dressing. 
As hot appetizer, we enjoyed seasonal white asparagus with hollandaise sauce, poached egg and raw ham. The taste is very rich!
As second dish, pasta with firefly squid, field mustard and garlic. Tasty! 
This is the main dish (we could choose fish or meat). The meat dish was grilled lamb. The taste is sharp and distinct. For eating each dish, we selected a suitable bottle of wine from the Bouteille's walk-in wine cellar. The selection varies from reasonable one to expensive one and we can taste wines depending on our capacity to pay.
In the end, we celebrated again with a cake! (we brought this cake from another cake shop.) Thanks to good dishes, wines, chatting and cozy atmosphere of Bouteille, we had a very good time there!  Nice service and good character of the owner couple greatly contributed to the time.
Anyhow, the quality of cuisine is very higher around the Ueno area.
My rating is 4 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Bouteille (ブテイユ)

Specialty of Mont St. Mitchel in Tokyo

In the Tokyo International Forum located between the Tokyo and Yurakucho Stations on JR line, a branch of a famous French restaurant was opened. The name is "Mere Pulard (メール・プラール)", whose head restaurant is in Mont St. Mitchel, one of the world heritage in France. The Mere Pulard is very famous there, but I couldn't taste its specialty when I and my parents traveled to Mont St. Mitchel many years ago.  So, when I and my hubby went shopping to Ginza, we tried Mere Pulard. 

This is the specialty! A big omelet using egg white and the texture is like a souffle. As salty taste is not so strong, some selective side dishes are served together such as creamed spinach, roasted mushrooms, fois gras saute, etc. Appetizer, chips or a salad and coffee are also inclusive.
The taste is nice, but we got a bit tired eating the omelet due to the big portion. One omelet for two persons would be enough and it seems better to order other dishes. We ordered boiled mussels with white wine for another main dish. For appetizer, scallops and soup de poissons (french fish soup). The soup is very rich and distinct. I'd love to revisit Mere Pulard to taste the soup!

The price is approx. JPY2,000 per person. Very reasonable! Interior is fashionable and suitable for branch, date or casual dinner. A glass of beer/wine costs from JPY700 and some bottles of wines are also available from JPY2,500. My rating is 3 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

Mere Pulard (メール・プラール)